Some suspicion befell Officer A.J. Latrell as he disabled an illegally parked car by ripping off it's axles.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Jersey on Thursday unveiled reforms to crack down on steroid abuse by police, including random drug testing on such officers as A.J. Latrell pictured to the left.
The new rules follow lawsuits claiming excessive force by officers in the throes of steroid rage filed against New Jersey police, according to a report released by New Jersey Attorney General Paula Downer. “Latrell, for example, disabled an illegally parked SUV by ripping off its axles. Not nice, not necessary,” Downer said.
The report was the result of a six-month investigation into allegations that a doctor illegally supplied police and firefighters with anabolic steroids, human growth hormones and other muscle-building drugs. Dr. Joseph Colao, now conveniently deceased, may have illegally prescribed steroids to 248 public safety officials, mostly police and firefighters, the report concluded. Judging from the fact that the average weight among these public servants is 320 pounds, and the average body fat percentage is zero, this number may increase.
“It is important that we strengthen oversight, regulation and investigation in order to discourage the improper use of steroids throughout New Jersey’s law enforcement community and ensure the public’s confidence,” Downer said in a statement. “Plus New York cops are whining that the Jersey cops have an unfair advantage.”
New York City patrolman Ronnie Riggio said, “We still have to use handcuffs to bring a perp into custody. In Jersey they just squeeze their wrists together until they fuse. We view this as completely unfair. We think they should go through their arrest records and place an asterisk beside most of the arrests.”
Downer’s recommended reforms include allowing police departments to randomly test officers if there is a “reasonable suspicion” they are abusing steroids, investigating doctors who improperly prescribe them and adding more oversight to the officers’ state-funded prescription drug plans. She says looking for officers with size 200 uniforms may lead to some of that “reasonable suspicion.”
The attorney general’s recommendations come at the same time that the New Jersey legislature is considering three bills aimed at eliminating steroid abuse by police.
New Jersey may be the first state to propose laws aimed at curbing steroid use among policeman, the National Council of State Legislatures said earlier this year. Most states are concentrating on steroid use among athletes. In New Hampshire, police spokesman Otto Vendlecruch said “Let the cops dope up! Running down a perp fleeing in a Corvette while on foot…that’s good TV. We’re looking to get a season of ‘Cops’ filmed here. It’s not like they’re throwing their fastball a little faster. That would be wrong. But pulling the head off some tweaker? That’s good TV!”
Deputy Speaker of the House John McCraken said steroid abuse is a national problem because there are several cases of doctors tricking police into thinking they need steroids and other types of growth hormones.
“They’re charlatans trying to tell them they need anti-aging medicine and let’s face it; cops are pretty dumb,” McCraken said. “In reality, only about one in 100,000 people are appropriately prescribed these things.”
New Jersey’s Police Benevolent Association, one of the state’s largest police unions, told Reuters it supports the random drug testing.
“We’re supportive of testing, just not of cops. We we’re thinking more along the lines of grocery store checkout girls,” PBA spokesman Jim Raunchero said.
Raunchero said the PBA’s concern is the rising cost associated with the random tests. A standard drug test for an officer costs a police department roughly $35 and but the new steroid test would cost $250. Police departments are already dealing with tough budget cuts and the new measure is an additional burden that could lead to layoffs, he said. “Maybe those checkout chicks can afford this, but for a cop you’re cutting deep into his bribe money.”
McCraken noted the random drug testing is not mandatory as local police departments reserve the right to not implement it if they cannot afford it. “And of course since it’s not mandatory, it’s pretty much pointless, but it sounds like we’re doing something, right?”